GoC 101: Hela The Goddess of Death
On November 3rd fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be treated to the films very first female villain in the form of the fabulous Goddess of Death, Hela. Hela will be making her first live-action appearance in Thor Ragnarok played by two time Academy Award winner, Cate Blanchett. With the addition of Hela to Marvel’s roster of characters who have made the jump from comics to live action also comes an entirely new audience for the character.
Who is Hela?
Hela is the creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. She made her first appearance in March of 1964 in the pages of Journey Into Mystery #102. Hela is the alleged daughter of the God of Mischief, Loki, and the sorceress Giantess Angrboda. If her alleged parentage is true then Hela is the sister of both the Fenris Wolf and the Midgard Serpent. When Hela was a child the Norns, three Goddess of Fate similar to the Fates of Greek Mythology, prophesied to the Asgardians that Hela would become a great threat to them. Upon Hela reaching maturity, the All-Father Odin decreed her as the goddess of the dead
Where does Hela Reside?
By making Hela the goddess and ruler of the dead, Odin gave her dominion over one of the nine realms, Niflheim and by extension Hel. Hela’s specific dominion was over the souls who didn’t die in battle and earn a place in Odin’s realm of Valhalla. Niflheim, also known as the “Mist Home” is a cold, frozen, barren icy land where the dishonored dead dwell. Hel, however, is the section of the realm for the dead who are neither honored nor dishonored. Niflheim is located in the lowest level of the universe just under the third root of Yggdrasil, the world tree that connects the nine realms. Much like Cerberus guarding the entrance to the Underworld in Greek Mythology the gate to Hel is protected by the Hel hound Garm. Contrary to popular belief Hel is not a dark, evil, joyless place. Parts of Hel function as a paradise while other parts function as the traditional dark glum depiction of the “afterlife” or the “underworld”. The character Sera who spent a bit of time in Hel is quoted as saying “Hel is a world bound to the mind of its mistress and queen, Hela, Ruler of the Dead. The realm shifts by her will. Its laws are ancient, and her whims can twist those laws until they scream… but not until they break. As Valhalla is a realm of honor, and Faerie a realm of temptation… Hel is the realm of trials.Sometimes, Hel is a pit. Sometimes, Hel is a palace. Now, Hel is a puzzle box. It’s not a place of sheer suffering, you ought to know. For the wicked, it is punishment. For the righteous, it is a reward. For everyone else, it’s pretty chill.”
What are Hela’s goals?
Though her motives and desires tend to change over the decades there are two things that have always remained constant for Hela, her desire to increase her dominion over Asgardian souls, and her desire to possess the souls of both Thor and Odin. Over the years Hela has had many an opportunity to fulfill her desires. The first time Thor and Hela met was when a young Thor was willing to give his life for the life of the Lady Sif who had fallen into the possession of Hela. While Hela could have accepted his offer, claiming one of the two souls she seeks the most, she was impressed by his bravery and allowed Thor and Sif to depart Niflheim safety. There have been many times when Thor or Sif have been brought close to death and they were paid a visit by Hela who was prepared to add their soul to her collection of Asgardians. There have been times when Thor was willing to sacrifice himself for not only the Lady Sif but for the very Earth itself. To date, Hela has been unsuccessful in her pursuit of winning over the souls of Thor and Odin once and for all adding them to her collection.
What are Hela’s powers?
As the Goddess of Death, it is pretty much a given that Hela has dominion and power over life and death for Asgardians. Death for Asgardians differs from death for human beings. When Asgardians die, unlike humans, their souls remain in their bodies until Hela arrives to take them to Niflheim or Hel. Once Hela dispatches the spirit of a god they take on a faux physical form and forever reside within her realms. Hela generally waits for an Asgardian to be on the verge of death before she appears to deliver her touch of death, but she is perfectly capable of killing a healthy Asgardian. While her touch can at times be effective through her gloved hand Hela must generally make skin to skin contact in order for her touch of death to work. Hela also has the ability to throw magical bolts of energy that can either age or kill a person.
The Cloak of Hela
When Hela was born she was born with half of her body living and thriving but the other half dead and rotting. Hela is only whole when she wears her cloak which gives life to the dead half of her body. It is believed that Hela cannot leave the realms of the dead without her cloak. Without her cloak, it is believed that Hela’s life force isn’t sufficient enough to support her physical state and that without the cloak she isn’t even strong enough to walk.
Checking out Hela’s first live-action appearance when Thor Ragnorak bursts into theaters on November 3rd.